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"Every Bullet Has Its Billet."
Page Count
Word Count
John O'London's Weekly
Publication Year
Girlhood, Mothers

An exploration of psychological tension between a young woman, her obsessively-doting mother, and their two boarders, the newly-married and aristocratic Lieutenant Bronson and his wife.

The couple move away after a dramatic misunderstanding; later the girl learns that each is dead, the man in battle, the woman "hit, while sitting in a cafe, by a stray bullet...She began to feel that she was going about with a bullet in her own heart, and was only gradually beginning to understand, by the pain of longer silences between herself and her mother, who had fired it."

Sean O'Faolain, reviewing the collection in which this story first appeared, wrote "Now all my admiration for Mr. Bates is based on his delicate touch, his skill in delineating these emotions that never quite reach the age of puberty, but either lie in the heart like a poor seed that hardly has the strength to sprout, or that does sprout in a fragile flower to adorn and inform a whole life: together with his inimitable power of clothing these human situations in harmonious and informative natural surroundings. I was therefore, disappointed at the obviousness of this story, and I marked the sentence: 'She took the false premise of her mother, the accusation, and built up about it the arguments for one side or another, singling out for herself the moments when there might have been something in Bronson's way of looking at her' Well — there is no art in conveying emotions as obviously as that...Such a technique is heavy-footed."

In John O'London's Weekly (December 31, 1937), The Flying Goat (1939), Thirty-One Selected Tales (1947), The Good Corn and Other Stories (1974).